China could pressure Taiwan with economic boycott says expert
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US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s highly controversial visit to Taipei last week provoked an irate response from Beijing, who warned the Biden administration the US would “pay the price” for the trip. The US maintains diplomatic ties with Beijing under the ‘One China’ policy, with an informal yet “robust” relationship with Taipei.
Taiwan, in close proximity to the Chinese mainland, has its own democratically-elected government, and considers itself separate from the Republic of China after a civil war in 1949.
Beijing, however, views Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland in the future, and has not ruled out force in bringing Taipei under Beijing’s control.
The Chinese foreign ministry said Ms Pelosi’s visit “seriously undermines the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations and sends a seriously wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces”.
This message was echoed by Russia, with Moscow declaring its backing for Beijing over the “purely provocative” trip.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, then added: “Russia confirms the principle of “one China” and opposes the independence of the island in any form.”
The Kremlin has looked to consolidate its ties with Beijing in recent years, declaring a “no limits” friendship between the two countries shortly before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Professor Steve Tsang, of the China Institute at SOAS, University of London, told Express.co.uk, that the rift between China and Western countries over Taiwan couldn’t have come at a better time for Russia.
Professor Tsang asked the question about precisely what Russia has “got to lose by coming out very strongly in support of China?”
However, Professor Tsang expressed no small amount of doubt that “the Chinese will ever reciprocate, and repay the support of the Russians”.
But this likely did not influence the Kremlin’s decision making, he added.
Professor Tsang explained to Express.co.uk: “Russia under Putin is in so much trouble with the West already.
“By supporting China and encouraging the Chinese to be more assertive over Taiwan – and increasing tensions in that part of the world– it’s going to distract the Americans and potentially some Europeans, from their focus on Ukraine.
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“And the worse the relationship between China and the US and Europe gets, the better off Russia is.
“So why would they not come out and openly support Xi Jinping?”
The deterioration in the relationship between Washington and Beijing “was absolutely a godsend” to the Kremlin, Professor Tsang added.
He said: “Putin historically has been supporting the Chinese position on Taiwan anyway, so it’s not completely new.
“But in terms of the sheer calculation of national interest or the interest in the Putin government, it makes absolutely every sense to encourage and support China to take a very strong, perhaps even aggressive, approach towards Taiwan.”
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said the “live fire” military drills conducted by China around Taiwan in response to the Pelosi visit were a sign Beijing was preparing to invade.
He added: “China’s real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan strait and the entire region.”
China announced a new wave of military drills this week after a scheduled first set was expected to end over the weekend.
Mr Wu said: “[China] is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyber-attacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.”
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